Republican Greg Abbott leads Democrat Wendy Davis by 12 percentage points in the race for governor, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
That result is close to the 11-point spread, also in Abbott’s favor, in the February UT/TT Poll. In this most recent survey, he maintained a 14-point lead among male voters and a 10-percentage point lead among female voters.
“Abbott remains strong and this, in a lot of ways, confirms the strategy that we’ve seen from his camp: Leave well enough alone,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the UT/TT Poll. “The Davis campaign seems to be not able to reverse the trend.”
Abbott has the support of 44 percent of the voters surveyed. Davis had 32 percent, Libertarian Kathie Glass had 3 percent, the Green Party’s Brandon Parmer had 1 percent. Another 3 percent chose “someone else,” and 17 percent said they had not formed an opinion.
The poll summary is here. The last UT/TT poll had Abbott up 47-36 in February, so according to these guys both candidates have lost some support to the great “undecided” crowd. Of course, that last poll was a two-candidate choice, unlike the November poll, so once again direct comparisons are a bit dicey. Maybe they will be consistent about that from here on. I sure hope so.
I’m not going to spend much time on this. For one thing, the UT/Trib pollsters haven’t earned my trust back since their debacle in the primaries. Yes, I know, a general election is different, but still. I don’t plan to put any faith in their results until I see how they fare in this election. I’ll track these and put them on the sidebar like all others that I see, but they’re just another set of numbers until they prove they’re more than that.
Beyond that, I have two complaints about the UT/Trib polls that have yet to be acknowledged, much less addressed. For one, Henson and Shaw have a bizarre tendency to ignore their own past data in their discussions of the poll du jour. How can you claim that Greg Abbott is killing it among Anglo voters when your own data shows that he’s not doing as well as either Mitt Romney or Rick Perry? It’s like each result exists in a vacuum, and it gets fit into whatever the narrative for that election happens to be. You’ve got all this data – use it, for crying out loud.
Two, they really need to explain their turnout assumptions and why they think the electorate will look like it does. This is especially the case given the not-really-random nature of their own polls, but it’s true for any pollster out there, including reputable firms and various hapless hacks: What do you think the 2014 electorate will look like, and why? If your polls are based on the assumption that 2014 will resemble 2010, well, it’s not surprising that you’d show Abbott with a double-digit lead. Maybe that will turn out to be a correct assumption, but don’t just make it without explaining why you’re making it. Everybody knows that Democrats, both nationally and in Texas, are working to change the turnout model for this year, and hopefully for non-Presidential years going forward. What I don’t know – what I don’t think anybody knows right now – is how successful they may be. Pollsters need to make a guess about that, and they need to explain the guess they make. Otherwise, they’re just polling the last election. That’s often a sound strategy – it’s what I recommended they consider doing for polling primaries – but it’s not the be-all and end-all, especially when you know there are other factors in play. Tell me what you think the electorate will look like, and why. I don’t think I’m asking for too much here.